As a kid, summer was always my favorite time of year. Now, as a parent, I see a lot of the problems that summer can bring. My wife and I both work, and it can be tough to balance the expense of additional child care with the desire to spend more time with our kids.
Family is an important value for a lot of my clients at Deerfield Financial Advisors, and I’m all about constructing your spending in a way that lines up with your values. Let’s talk about how you can financially prepare for your summer without sacrificing the people and traditions that matter most to you.
Budgeting for Extra Family Time
Having your kids home over the summer can make for an incredibly fun season. However, the additional costs of having them home full time can get overwhelming. From extra child care to figuring out how you’ll keep them entertained, to trying to go above and beyond to make their summers unforgettable – you might be feeling a little stuck, and a little panicked. So, how do you budget for extra family time during the summer, without sacrificing fun family memories that your kids will hold onto for years to come?
The truth is that summer comes at the same time every year. Just like holidays or birthdays – this season isn’t a surprise. You know it’s on the way, and you can plan ahead to have a fun but financially responsible summer with your kids.
This might mean setting aside extra savings January-May to cover part-time childcare while you work. It might mean earmarking separate savings account for the summer vacation you’ve been dreaming up with your spouse or partner. It might even mean doing some research in advance to find free or inexpensive summer day camp or activity options to keep your kids happy, entertained, and maybe even help them pursue educational and personal growth away from the classroom.
If you’re imagining an incredible summer vacation for you and your kids, you’re not alone. About 68% of Americans planned to take a summer vacation in 2018, and that number seems to climb year after year. Unfortunately, many people plan an extravagant and fun family vacation that they can’t actually afford.
Instead of pulling out your credit card, try one of these other options:
- Save in advance for your summer vacation – even if it means postponing it to later this season, or even next year.
- Brainstorm ways to cut the cost of your vacation – camping can be just as fun as a family-friendly cruise or Disney World.
- Plan several small trips or day-excursions for your family instead of a full-blown vacation – you’ll save money, and your kids will still get to experience some amazing things
If summertime childcare is stressing you out, don’t worry. You still have time to put a plan in place. In some cases, you may need to bite the bullet and pay for part-time childcare help. Whether this is a daycare facility nearby, or a trusted babysitter looking for some extra summer income, make sure to explore all of your options to find what’s going to work best for you and your kids. However, you have other, more cost-effective, choices available, too:
- Finding a summer or day camp can take the pressure off you for a week or more, and still give your kids an incredible experience.
- Reach out to family members – would your parents (or your spouse or partner’s parents) be willing to watch the kids for a few hours a week while you’re at work?
- Coordinate a nanny-share with other parents near you. If everyone’s able to watch the kids for one day a week, or even a half day, you may be able to work from home for the day you’re on duty and get free childcare the other 4 days of the week.
Think About Your Priorities
Before making a plan for your summer, it can help to think about your priorities. I’m talking about what you want to accomplish beyond just spending more time with your family – which is a fantastic priority to have. Maybe you want to focus on giving back to your community, or teaching your kids what it means to volunteer.
This could mean you block off time in your summer schedule to take your kids to the soup kitchen or food bank a few times a month. Maybe it means that instead of taking a traditional vacation, you sign the whole family up for a Habitat for Humanity or community rebuilding program for a week. If your kids are older, you could encourage them to look into youth volunteering trips either through your church or a community organization.
Maybe your priorities are to help your kids connect with your extended family who lives further away, but you aren’t sure if you’ll be able to take time off work to travel to see them. Instead, consider working it into your budget to fly family in to see you. You can host, and they can help cover daytime child care while you’re at work.
Whatever your priorities are, you can build a summer plan around them that leaves you, your spouse or partner, and your kids feeling happy and fulfilled.
There’s a major temptation over the summer to overspend on everything from extra dinners out with your family, to taking the kids to ice cream, to planning big family vacations. It can be helpful to check yourself before making extra purchases that don’t usually fall within your budget. Ask yourself: does this fall within my family’s values?
Instead of spending mindlessly this summer, focus on creating a plan to spend your money in a way that reflects your values, and will fulfill your whole family. This can even be a great learning moment for your kids! If you show them what it means to spend according to your values, you’re taking the time to teach them a valuable money lesson.
Gearing up for summer, and feel like you need a little bit of financial help? Reach out! We’d love to help you organize a cash flow strategy that supports the life you and your family want to live.